In 2001, despite significant evidence to the contrary, the
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) began posting to its web
site information that marijuana has no medical value. In response to this
blatant disregard for scientific evidence, ASA filed a Data Quality Act (DQA)
petition on October 4, 2004, requesting that HHS correct its
information being disseminated regarding the medical use of marijuana. The DQA
requires federal agencies, like HHS, to ensure that the information it
distributes is fair, objective and meets certain quality guidelines. Congress
passed the DQA primarily in response to increased use of the Internet, to
prevent the harm that can occur when government websites, which are easily and
often accessed by the public, disseminate inaccurate information.
After numerous delays, HHS denied ASA’s petition on April 20, 2005. ASA quickly filed an
appeal, and after even more delays, on
July 12, 2006, HHS denied the appeal. Having exhausted
its administrative remedies, ASA filed a lawsuit on February 21, 2007, in U.S. District
Court for the Northern District of California, naming HHS and FDA, and
challenging the government’s violation of the Data Quality Act. An amended complaint was subsequently filed
on August 17, 2007, which was dismissed on November 20, 2007.
ASA has appealed the case to the Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeals and the matter was argued on April 14, 2009.